Starting up running may seem overwhelming at first. Many people become discouraged after experiencing soreness or exhaustion after a run and abandon their ambitions. The key to maintaining a running routine is consistency and gradual improvement. It is important to start slowly -- even walking -- and build eventually into running. Once a routine is established, running becomes easier.
Before You Begin
Before you start into a running routine, it is important to get a pair of running shoes. Specialty stores that carry running shoes will be able to examine your running gait and prescribe a shoe that is proper for your foot type. Properly fitting and quality-made shoes are worth the expense because they will help prevent injuries related from bio-mechanics and the incessant impact of running. A simple watch with a timer may also be helpful to keep track of the duration of your runs.
CoolRunning.com recommends easing into a running routine gradually to avoid injuries. At first, plan to run three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. Keep the days you run during the week spaced out to give yourself a chance to recover. Run at a comfortable, conversational pace. A "conversational" pace means that you should be able to easily carry on a conversation while running without being too out of breath to speak in complete sentences. If you are unable to run for the full 20 to 30 minutes, alternate walking with running. Run for 60 seconds followed by a walking break for 90 seconds. When you feel ready, you can replace the walking breaks with running.
After a few days of running and activating previously unused muscles, soreness is normal and expected. Do not get discouraged -- maintaining a routine of steady running will help dissipate leg soreness. A stretching routine, completed before and after running, will also reduce muscle soreness and enhance your running performance, says Clark. After a warm-up of five minutes jogging, stretch the major muscle groups in your legs for 30 to 40 seconds. Ease into each stretch slowly, and hold steady to avoid making sudden, bouncing motions that may overstretch and tear muscles.
Once you become comfortable with a routine of running three to five days per week, you can begin increasing the time or amount of days spent running. Make changes gradual, increasing activity duration or intensity by no more than 10 percent each consecutive week. "Fitness" magazine recommends going for a shorter but faster run one to two times per week to improve speed. You can introduce speed by running 200 meters six times or 100 meters eight to 10 times during or after comfortable runs.
Get details about 5K races or running groups from your local running shop. Setting a goal, such as a future race or keeping pace with a group of runners, will keep you focused and motivated toward maintaining a running routine. Running with friends can help break up the routine and keep running enjoyable. Look around your area for parks with trails and new settings to run it. Start a diary of your daily runs to hold you accountable for missed days and to look back at your progress for encouragement.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.